Online Gambling Issues
Online gambling is any type of gambling conducted over the internet. This includes casinos, online poker and live poker. The first internet gambling venue open to the public, was online ticketing for the prestigious Liechtenstein International Poker Tournament in October 1994.
There has been explosive growth in countries such as the US, Canada and the UK where internet casinos are legal. In these jurisdictions online gambling is often referred to as sports betting or greyhound betting. However, the term is not commonly used in the US. This is because the laws governing online gambling are different in the US than they are in Canada or the UK. Despite this some US states have already created their own licensed gambling establishments including Las Vegas and New York City. Some have also passed legislation authorizing online casinos.
The online gambling industry is estimated to be worth around $60 billion dollars. Most of the revenue generated by online gambling goes to third world countries such as Romania, Panama and Macau. However, some countries such as Russia and Ireland have taken a direct role in generating revenue through online gambling. Despite the growth of the online gambling industry there is still a very small percentage of online gamblers who reside in the US and most of these residents only visit the websites on a regular basis.
In the US the Gambling Enforcement Division has aggressively prosecuted individuals involved in online gambling. The enforcement efforts focus on closing down internet gambling facilities and individuals involved in the business of running it. There are two main types of law enforcement activities aimed at stopping and reducing the volume and impact of online gambling:
Federal law covers the online gambling industry in the US. However, state laws cover the volume of sales as well as taxes that are paid by retailers and other individuals who transact or place bets on sports, games, horse racing, soccer and poker. States like Rhode Island and New Jersey impose a five percent tax on Internet sales. This type of legislation differs from the Federal law in that the states consider the volume and not the frequency of sales that are conducted in order to calculate their tax.
A number of non-US based companies also provide online gambling facilities. These include the Big Casino Club, Playtech and Microgaming among others. Many countries including United Kingdom, Sweden and Malta have taken steps to close down online gambling facilities due to concerns over potential harm to children. One of the biggest problems with online gambling comes from the fact that there is no regulating authority to set standards for online casinos and the lack of government regulation has meant that there is very little control over what is done with your money. A number of high profile cases including those of Bernard Madoff and Rajat Gandhi have highlighted the issues related to online gambling.